Lance Armstrong is "a toxic asset" now.
That's the assessment crisis management specialist Ashley McCown gave to The Washington Post Wednesday, the same day Armstrong announced he was stepping down as chairman of his Livestrong charity. At the same time, Nike, Anheuser-Busch and Trex announced they'd severed relations with Armstrong — though some said they'd continue to support the charity he founded.
"Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner," Nike said.
Anheuser-Busch simply said it was "terminating" the relationship it had with Armstrong, who endorsed Michelob.
And Trek, according to USA Today, also said it was terminating the relationship it has with Armstrong, saying they were "disappointed by the findings and conclusions in the USADA report regarding Lance Armstrong."
For his part, Armstrong tried to take the high road in announcing he would turn over the reins of the charity he founded.
"I have had the great honor of serving as this foundation’s chairman for the last five years and its mission and success are my top priorities,” Armstrong said in a statement. “Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.”
McCown says all this controversy presented a huge challenge to anyone who remained associated with him.
“Lance Armstrong is a brand, and Nike is a premiere brand. He is now a toxic asset that cannot be associated with. There is too much of a chance for Nike’s fine reputation to be tarnished. Lance is damaged goods. The actions today speak volumes about that," she said in the Post.
Other companies terminating relationships with Armstrong include 24 Hour Fitness, Sports drink producer FRS and Honey Stinger.